The 2018 Crusaders needed a last-minute try from winger George Bridge to seal a tightly-contested 21-19 win over the 1999 Crusaders in Christchurch in our interactive Greatest Super Rugby Team tournament.
SA Rugby magazine readers dived into Game 5 of the 32-team knockout tournament which pit two legendary Crusaders teams, filled with All Blacks, against each other.
It was the 2018 version that narrowly came out on top, after 37% of readers voted for Scott Robertson’s side to take the win by between six and 10 points.
This result eliminates the 1999 Crusaders from the tournament while the 2018 successors advance to the round of 16, where they will face the winners of Game 6 of the tournament.
The game did not lack for entertainment, with both sides known for their free-flowing style. It was the ’99 team that landed the first blows as flyhalf Andrew Mehrtens slotted early penalties to give them a 6-0 lead. However, it was the 2018 side that scored the first try as Richie Mo’unga burst through a gap in the defence, passing on his outside to Goodhue, who in turn offloaded to Codie Taylor and the hooker showed a great turn of pace to sprint clear and finish off.
It appeared as if the 2018 team was taking control when Seta Tamanivalu’s acrobatic finish in the corner, from Mo’unga’s cross-field kick, gave them a 14-6 lead at the break. However, a quickfire brace from Samoan international Afato So’oalo got the 1999’s straight back into the thick of things in the second half, with Mehrtens nailing his third penalty to add to their tally.
The 2018 Crusaders were not to be outdone and after taking the ball through the phases in the closing stages of the match, a deft offload from Kieran Read put George Bridge away to score the winner.
1999 Crusaders – Tries: Afato So’oalo (2). Penalties: Andrew Mehrtens (3).
2018 Crusaders – Tries: Codie Taylor, Seta Tamanivalu, George Bridge. Conversions: Richie Mo’unga (3).
1999 Crusaders – 15 Leon MacDonald, 14 Caleb Ralph, 13 Daryl Gibson, 12 Norm Berryman, 11 Afato So’oalo, 10 Andrew Mehrtens, 9 Justin Marshall, 8 Steve Surridge, 7 Reuben Thorne, 6 Angus Gardiner, 5 Norm Maxwell, 4 Todd Blackadder (c), 3 Greg Feek, 2 Mark Hammett, 1 Greg Somerville.
Coach: Wayne Smith
2018 Crusaders – 15 David Havili, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Coach: Scott Robertson